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Scientists wonder why an Italian man suddenly speaks only French
The idea of waking up one morning and suddenly speaking another language sounds bizarre and unbelievable at first. But a 50-year-old Italian now experienced exactly this situation. The reason for the seemingly sudden learning of the new foreign language is brain damage. The person concerned now only speaks French.
Imagine that you get out of bed in the morning and suddenly you can no longer speak German. But you speak Spanish or any other language. It may sound strange at first, but it is quite possible. A situation like this has just happened to a 50 year old Italian man. The Italian no longer speaks Italian, but now speaks French. Brain damage is to blame. Doctors report about this strange process in the specialist magazine "Cortex".
Italians last spoke French 30 years ago
Exceptional cases, such as this one, occur very rarely. The person concerned initially posed a great mystery to all treating physicians. The man no longer speaks in his mother tongue, he now speaks only a foreign language that he learned at school more than 30 years ago, the researchers say. The 50-year-old Italian suffered brain damage and now insists on only speaking French. The man last spoke the language about 30 years ago. For this reason, his vocabulary and the way he is formulated are also on the stand that was taught at school, the Italian scientists Nicoletta Beschin, Angela de Bruin and Sergio Della Sala explain in the specialist journal "Cortex".
Did water accumulation in the brain trigger the strange consequences?
The person concerned speaks French with everyone, it doesn't even bother him if people don't understand his statements. The reason for this appears to be purely physical, the authors explain. The 50-year-old man has unfortunately been suffering from a brain disease for some time. The experts explained that a blood vessel in the man's brainstem had expanded in the brainstem. As a result, water accumulated in the brain of the Italian. Of course, this has already been treated medically, the researchers add.
Affected person behaves like the typical caricature of a Frenchman
No cognitive impairments were found in the person concerned, the authors say. Except for the language change, everything seems to be in good order. The treating researchers and doctors now suspect that the brain disease has led to some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder with manic and delusional features. There is currently no other explanation for the peculiar behavior of the sufferer. But not only the language of the Italian has changed. The person concerned now behaves like the typical caricature of a Frenchman, the scientists explain in the article. The man now greets other people with a loud “Bonjour” and watches tons of French films. In addition, he only cooks French and his wife has complained several times that he has been baking lots of bread since the incident, the doctors add.
Subject is still able to speak Italian
One thing makes the whole situation particularly bizarre: the Italian man still speaks his mother tongue, he only seems to refuse to use it in everyday life, the researchers explain. When asked, the subject can still speak Italian perfectly without any problems. In fact, he normally only uses his mother tongue for his written communication. The patient really seems to think in French too, the scientists explain.
There was a similar case in the People's Republic of China in 2015
Of course, such effects after brain disorders are really extremely rare. A patient had a very similar story in 2015 in the People's Republic of China. A 94-year-old Chinese woman made headlines there when she suddenly began to use only a foreign language for communication, say the experts. The woman then suffered a stroke and then spoke only fluent English. However, the old lady could hardly speak Chinese for it anymore, the doctors add. The person affected really only managed a few words in her mother tongue. The sick pensioner, named Liu Jaiyu, had previously worked for several years as a teacher of the English language in her professional life, the authors explain. (as)